Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflection on 2012

Although Mike's Marathon Blog is long retired, I have been making one blog post at the end of the year to summarize my accomplishments of the year and set some goals for the upcoming year.  Here were my goals for 2012, along with how I fared:

  • Get back down to my ideal weight - This is one goal that I did not even come close.  I ended 2011 about 10 pounds away from my ideal weight of 160 lbs, and I'm about 5 pounds heavier than that now.  So now, I'm 15 pounds away from my ideal weight.  UGH!  Since I was able to achieve most of my other goals for 2012, this is one goal that I will need to really work on in 2013.
  • Stay Healthy - Luckily 2012 was an excellent year for this goal!  I started allergy shots in January 2012, and along with this I also started a regimen of medication (antihistamines, nasal steroid, steroid inhaler, neti-pot, etc.).  As a result, I had no sinus/respiratory infections during 2012.  I'm not sure whether this was due to the allergy shots or medications, but the bottom line is that I did not need to use any antibiotics like in 2010 or prednisone like in 2011 and I did not have any "downtime" due to being sick!
  • Run More - I had set a goal of 750 miles for 2012.  This was after 573 miles in 2010 and 552 in 2011.  For 2012, I ended up logging 730 miles - a little short of my goal, but significantly more than the past two years.
  • Run A Half Marathon - I did not meet this goal this year.  I trained for two races - a 5K during Memorial Day Weekend and Ragnar DC in late September.  The Ragnar relay was similar in mileage to a Half Marathon (I ran 14.5 miles over that weekend) but it was not all at once.
  • Run With Others More Often - This was one I did accomplish somewhat.  Most of my weekly runs were done solo - I did a few weekly runs with neighbors when I was in town, but mostly (especially when I was on the road for business travel) I ran solo.  However, I ran two races with others - the Save The Trail 5K during Memorial Day Weekend with two of the teens from the Yesodot Israeli Dance Troupe that I co-direct, and then the Ragnar DC Relay with a great group of 11 other runners!
  • Take More Time Off From Work - I accomplished this goal as well.  The Fox Family took a three-week trip to Israel this Summer!  I also took a week off from work for us to go on a Disney Cruise with my parents and my sister and her family.  It was great to have a good amount of family time during 2012 - especially since I was on the road almost every other week.
One big accomplishment that was not part of my 2012 Goals was - A NEW 5K PR!!!  At the Save The Trail 5K on May 26, 2012, I ran a 23:39 5K (7:37/mile pace).  It was great to PR at age 40.  It was annoying that there were still 7 other 40 year olds in the race that were faster than me.  Will I ever age-group place???

What's in store for 2013?  I definitely need to get back to my ideal weight.  This will be my #1 Goal for 2013.  I want to continue to stay healthy but reduce the medications that I'm taking.  I already discussed this with my allergist and have phased out one antihistamine and the nasal steroid.  If I can get to only one daily medication along with the allergy shots (or no daily meds?) that would be ideal.  As for running, I would like to stay on track with 750 miles or more this year.  I don't have any race goals right now - again it would be nice to train and run a Half Marathon, however, since I don't know what I'll be doing this year for work I don't want to commit to a goal.  I know my goals for 2013 are not lofty - it's pretty much par for the course of 2012 with a little tweaking - but things are going very well for me now, so why change things?

Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflection on 2011

Although Mike's Marathon Blog is long retired, I feel compelled to write a reflection post for 2011 like I did for 2010 (actually, the last blog post I wrote was exactly one year ago this week!)

Last year, my goals for 2011 were:
  • Lose the weight. When I weighed in at the gym in January of 2011, the scale showed 182 pounds. I got that down to 166 pounds in early July and I'm now hovering in the 168-170 range. It is definitely progress - not back to the 160 pounds that I was 5 years ago...I'd love to get back to that number, but that would take some serious commitment!
  • Stay healthy. In 2010 I suffered from three bouts of respiratory infections/inflammation which ceased my running for 3-4 weeks at a time. In 2011, I started working with a pulmonologist and later in the year an allergist to get to the bottom of the issues. I still had the incidents, but I have decreased the amount of time I'm on the shelf when it happens. For 2012, I will be trying allergy shots to see if I can desensitize my system to the triggers of these events so they don't happen in the first place!
  • Run More. This is one goal that I fell short. My total mileage for the year is 552 miles - 21 miles LESS than 2010. Again, the main culprits were travel and health. Although I did have a few stretches of a few 20 mile weeks in a row. It's not marathon mileage, but it is definitely what I need to feel like a runner again.
  • Schedule more races. Another goal where I fell short. I ran in two races this year - both low-key races from MCRRC. A 4 mile run on Memorial Day and a 8K run earlier this month. Both were PRs (since I had not raced those distances before!!). However, the pace of these were below my PRs for longer distances, so they're really only PRs by default.
  • Schedule more time off from work. This is one where I excelled this year. I ended up teaching Israeli Dancing at a BBYO Leadership Camp for Teens for two weeks this summer, which got me away from my work responsibilities (and many other responsibilities) for about 17 days. I brought Sherry and the kids up for the first 8 days I was there - and it was great having some quality time with them.
Other highlights from 2011:
  • My big birthday - I turned 40. I still can't believe it. At times I still feel like I'm 20 and just happen to have a 9 year old and 6 year old in the house (yes...I know the math doesn't make sense there!)
  • My Israeli Dance group continues to grow! I am now getting between 40-50 dancers each week at the group and word of the group continues to spread. I actually just started a new blog for the Israeli Dance group at and a Twitter account @MarkidMike
  • My day job at Ericsson also continues to go well. I was extremely busy this year with a huge project in 1H2011 in East TX and a bunch of smaller projects in 2H2011 in Georgia, Mississippi and the Carolinas.
My goals for 2012 are pretty much the same as 2011. I would love to put the commitment in place to get back down to my ideal weight of 160 pounds (my doctor says 150-155 would be ideal for me, but I haven't seen numbers like that since I was 17 years old). I want to find a way to stay healthy - I'm hoping the allergy shots will help with this. If I can keep healthy, then I should be able to run more...I'm going to shoot for 750 miles for the year (14-15 miles per week if I can run every week...see not getting sick!). I would like to run a Half Marathon in the Spring and the Fall (see run more which depends on stay healthy!). Finally, I should be able to take more time from work - I will hit my 19th anniversary of working at Nortel (Ericsson bridged my service from Nortel when they purchased my division), so I will get an extra week of vacation.

One other goal - I want to try running with others more often this year. Running has been a solo venture for me most of the time, but I always enjoy when I run with other people. I'm going to try to run a race or two with my 9 year old son. I would love to run more with Sherry. I may also try to arrange some type of pub crawl / beer run with friends of mine. I don't think I'll ever be one to only run with a group, but I'm hoping more of my runs in 2012 will not be solo.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflection on 2010

Although I officially retired the blog earlier this year, I did mention in my final post that I may still post updates to the blog.

As the end of 2010 draws near, I feel I should reflect on the past year and set some goals for the year ahead.
  • In 2010 I ran fewer miles than in 2009, 2008 or 2007. You need to go back to 2006 - when I first started running seriously and trained for my first half marathon - to get a lower mileage total. Right now I have logged 573 miles for the year - and it is doubtful that I will get another run in during the next week as I'm battling a sinus infection.
  • Ironically, although I have run fewer miles this year - I set PRs in the 10 mile (1:29:43) and half marathon (2:11:41).
  • I travelled more for my job this year than ever before. My project for the first three quarters of the year was based in Souther California - and I spent one week of every month in Irvine. Since September, my projects have been based in East Texas and the group is based in Atlanta - so I have been traveling to Atlanta and Dallas. Traveling messes up any rhythm that I may have for the week (especially when trying to plan for runs). And being away from home has been hard on Sherry and the boys as well (so taking 1 night trips to Atlanta or Dallas - although more difficult on me - seems to be better for the family)
  • With business travel comes business lunches, dinners and happy hours. Which means more food (and beer) than I would normally consume. Which is why I'm about 15 pounds heavier now than I was when I crossed the finish line of the NY Marathon in November 2009.
  • Another contributor to the lower mileage is health. Luckily I had no running injuries during 2010. However, I have had three nasty sinus infections - all which have taken two rounds of antibiotics to treat. Once the congestion moves into my chest, it is not a good idea to run - so I have missed 3-4 week chunks of running...and then having to spend a few weeks to ramp back up again.
  • In my other hobby, my Israeli Dance group has really grown in 2010 as well. I now get around 35 dancers every week and people stay later. As a result I'm out later every Tuesday night - which makes a morning run on Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning a lot more difficult.
  • In 2010 I had some nice vacation time as well. Sherry and I got away for our 15th Anniversary - to a resort spa in the mountains of Pennsylvania for two nights. Then in October we all went on a Disney cruise with my parents and sister and her family. We also took some trips to visit family and friends for B'nai Mitzvahs and Weddings (two trips to Michigan, one to Connecticut and I extended a business trip to stay in Dallas)
As you can see, 2010 was definitely a year of great achievements coupled with some tough challenges.

I haven't set all of my goals for 2011 yet, however, here are a few main goals:
  • Lose the weight. Gaining 15 pounds in one year is way too much...I have to get this back to where I was in 2009.
  • Stay healthy. I'm going to get a CT scan of my sinuses in the next few weeks and I may go to an ENT. Three sinus infections in one year? That HAS to stop!
  • Run more. This will definitely help goal #1 and I'll be able to do this if I achieve goal #2. I don't necessarily need to hit 1,000 miles next year - but somewhere around 750 would be nice.
  • Schedule some races. I would like to schedule at least 2 half marathons and perhaps a fall full marathon (maybe Marine Corps??) I loved the 10 mile distance too. Perhaps with all the traveling I'm doing and not having as much time to run long, I should focus on running shorter races and develop more speed. Either way, I need to race a bit more in 2011 to keep my motivation up.
  • Schedule more time off from work. With the exception of the two main vacation I took (one for 2 work days and one for 3 work days), I really did not take much vacation time to relax and spend quality time with my family. I need to do more of this (and run more while on vacation!)
I'm sure I'll think of more as the next week goes on, but these are the main goals.

2011 will be a big year for me with a milestone birthday (ends in a zero...). Let's hope my age isn't the only milestone I have to celebrate!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Farewell To Blogging...

I recently have not had much time to devote to blogging. My updates have gone from one post each day or two to one post every week or two...not enough to really keep things going from a blog perspective.

When I first started the blog in late December 2007, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to keep it going. I had started training for my first marathon and I used the blog to document my progress and to keep me honest (if others were watching/reading, I knew I couldn't skip the workouts).

However the blog became something more than just a means for documenting my training. Through the blog I have made many new friends in the running community and also re-connected with old friends that have found my blog through Google or Facebook. For people that I see on a regular basis, the blog has become a conversation starter - and many times they already know what is happening in my life based on what they have read in the blog.

Coincidentally, I have been blogging for a little bit more than 26 months and 2 weeks (26.2???). It's a rather appropriate place to end a blog named "Mike Fox's Marathon Blog".

Will I be back? Most likely I will. When work calms down a bit and/or when I train for another marathon. I may also post race reports on the blog (and cross post them in FB and RunningAhead).

However, by "shutting down" the blog I will no longer have the stress of "I haven't blogged in over a week..." hanging over me.

Thanks everyone for reading the blog and supporting me over the past 2+ years!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Running, Push Ups, Working A LOT, and NOT Blogging

So...once again more than a full week without a blog post. I'm considering retiring the blog, but I kinda feel (or at least hope) that work will let up soon and I'll be able to get back into a nice rhythm again.

Although I haven't been blogging, I have been running. I managed to run four times this week - a Monday morning easy run outside before the sunrise, a Thursday morning tempo run also outside, a Friday morning treadmill run at the gym and then again this morning a 6.2 mile "long" run outside. The temperatures are getting warmer and the snow is finally starting to melt here. Finally.

Overall I ran 18 miles this week. This was pretty normal for me in a not-training-for-anything type of week. However, I have the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 5 weeks. Time to ramp up!

I still am feeling a bit nasally. I think I'm getting a bit of a relapse since my 4-year old has been sneezing and coughing for the past few days. I need to hit the sack early tonight to fight this off.

I also have been doing my pushups! I completed Week 4 of the Hundred Push Up Challenge. Day 3 of Week 4 I completed 150 pushups over 5 sets. That's an average of 30 pushups each - two weeks ago I managed 31 push ups in my exhaustion test and I thought I was a rock star then! I will be doing another exhaustion test either today or tomorrow. I'm psyched to see how many I can do now.

One other thing - I just got a new cell phone which tend to be a bit more internet/data focused. I may try to blog from the phone - which will hopefully mean more frequent posts, but definitely shorter posts. We'll see how it works out.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Finally A Morning Run!

As this week progressed, I have felt a lot better when waking up in the morning. It looks like this infection is finally behind me!

This morning I got up early and hit the gym for a run. It's been too long since I've been able to utter those words...and even though the clock had a 5 as the first number when I left the house, it felt wonderful!!

The run itself wasn't that wonderful. After running on the harder side on Monday and Wednesday, I felt I needed a controlled easy run. My Garmin was now working ( was the USB port that I was using did not power it up properly), so I could monitor my heart rate.

I ended up having to keep my pace in the 11:30/mile range to keep my heart rate low enough to constitute an easy run. It's almost painful to go that slow, but I know it is best for me right now.

The good news about all of this - I have now run 3 times this week for a total of 9.5 miles. That's more than my totals for the last 3 weeks. And I'm planning to get one more run in some time this weekend.

Earlier this week I laid out some goals. Well, I have hit 2 out of the 3. I have run 3 times (and potentially 4 if I get a weekend run). I have started the Hundred Push-Ups program. I'm on Week 3, Column 3. I managed to do a total of 78 push-ups on Tuesday and 97 push-ups on Thursday. Again, I'll try to do one more set this weekend.

The one goal I did not get to is counting calories. I have watched what I have been eating to some extent, but I know that my portions are still way too big. At least I'm now doing something to burn off the extra calories I'm consuming. I'll see how my weight is on Monday...if it's going up still I'll probably start counting calories on Monday (yeah, right!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two-And-A-Half-ish Miles On a Snowy Trail

The good news - I'm starting to feel much better. Finally! I'm waking up feeling almost refreshed and not continually run down.

However, I still haven't gotten up early enough for a morning run yet.

I was thinking about it on Wednesday morning and laid out my gear before going to bed on Tuesday night...but I woke up a bit too late to get the run in. So, I threw my gear in the gym bag and took it with me to the office (I worked in the Reston office on Wednesday).

The plan was to go for a run on the W&OD Trail during lunch (the trail is half a block from my office) and then go to the gym to shower (only about a mile away from the office).

I slipped out of the office around 12:30pm ready to go. Except my Garmin wasn't. Once again it wouldn't turn on. This time, I would get the "welcome screen" and then it would just disappear. UGH!!!

I had a quick decision to make - I was in my running clothes already. Do I just go for a run - no heart rate, no watch, no GPS - just to run? Or do I scrap it since I won't know how far, how fast and how hard I was running??

Of course I went for the run!

The W&OD trail near my office was mostly clear. Every so often there would be patches of the trail that still had snow on it with some tracks through the snow that I was able to use. A little over a mile into my run, though, there was more snow than pavement. And then there was a downed pine tree which had fallen completely across the path. I guess I found my turnaround point, I thought to myself.

I have no idea how far my run was. Or how long it took. Or what my heart rate was. But I still ran. I still got that great feeling of the blood pumping through my whole body during the run and that awesome high that I get about an hour after the run that you can tackle whatever life throws at you.

I sooooo needed this run...just to remind me why I do it in the first place.

As for the Garmin - I'm pretty sure that the issue is that the USB port I have been using (off of a very old USB hub) is not charging the battery well enough while it is sitting in the cradle. I have switched to another USB port and hope this clears the issue up. We'll see...I have my fingers crossed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Google Search Oddities

One of the running blogs that I read occasionally puts in a "Google Search Oddities" post every so often.

I use SiteMeter to check some stats for my blog (would I still blog if nobody at all read the thing?? I'm not sure...) and it's interesting to see how my blog is reached.

One of the oddest recurring searches is "running with ear pain". This actually brings up a post I wrote in my blog over two years ago - but I guess there are not too many people who write on this subject, so my blog jumps up in the searches.

This week's Google Search Oddity for my blog:
"treadmill 60 minute limit" and "how to go longer than 60 minutes on treadmill"

Lunchtime Run Before The Rain

This scenario has been happening waaaay too often. I lay my running clothes out the night before, but then either sleep in or can't get my behind out of bed in order to get the run in.

It happened again this morning.

By a nice stroke of luck, I had some meetings cancel and saw that there was a big empty space on my calendar from noon to 2pm. I could go for a lunchtime run. And I could do it outside since it wasn't going to start raining until this afternoon (and I loathe running in the rain when it is 40 degrees or colder...)

I ended up meeting HH at our neighborhood coffee shop to run 3-4 miles around the streets of my neighborhood. I decided not to look at my heart rate during the run, but to keep up with her while ensuring the pace was slow enough that I could keep up a conversation.

It seemed to have worked. Although I was a bit winded a few times along the way, I never felt that low-energy, fatigued feeling that I have been getting while running during the past week. That in itself was a huge confidence builder that I'm finally seeing the other side of being sick.

We ended up running for a little under 3.5 miles at an average pace of 9:48/mile. I'm glad I wasn't watching my HR as I averaged 165 bpm. I would expect an 8 minute mile pace with that average HR...I guess I'm still fighting off something.

All afternoon I had that great feeling pumping through me after a good run. I had almost forgotten what it felt like. I thought to myself, "this is only after 3.5 miles...I can't wait until I've ramped up to 6 or 10 or 15 miles again!"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Need to Finally Get Things Started

February is almost over and I haven't even logged 100 miles for the year. Heck...I was logging 100-150 miles a month during marathon training and I have a measly 98 miles over the first seven weeks of 2010.

I don't want to take on more than I can chew, but this is the week I need to get things started again. I'm going to the doctor for bloodwork (i.e. my cholesterol checkup) in three far in 2010 not only has my running been lacking, but my diet has gone out the window too.

So...starting this week I will try to: a) count calories again b) run at least 3 times (and hopefully 4 times) this week and c) start the 100 push up challenge (my initial test tonight was 31 push-ups...not too bad!)

Even if I can stick to one of the above three for more than two consecutive weeks, I should be in much better shape.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Still Running Short and Slow

I've been out in SoCal again this week. It was a great opportunity to get some running in - the weather was PERFECT! The mornings were in the low 50s and clear skies...daytime highs were in the 80s. It's going to be tough going back to DC where there's still over two feet of snow on the ground everywhere.

I went out for runs both on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Both times my heart rate was elevated, I felt weak and I just didn't have "it".

I'm not sure if it is still related to the sinus infection or stress at work or lack of sleep or lack of running.

On both runs I did out-and-backs from the hotel of 2.5 miles (1.25 out and then returning). Wednesday morning's run could have gone longer but I needed to get back to the hotel room to quickly shower and participate on an early conference call.

Even though the runs were not perfect, it definitely felt great to be out there running!

I'm taking the red eye home tonight. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully I'll be recovered enough for a Saturday morning run. Maybe I'll be able to go for a longer run (like at least 4 or 5 miles!).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Tough Run Today

I finally got a run in today - the first since the storms came and the first since I started feeling icky.

Even though I'm feeling better - I have two days of Levaquin to thank for that! - I'm no where near 100%. My run stats definitely show that.

I started out nice and slow - at 5.0 mph (a 12:00 mile). My heart rate climbed into the low-to-mid 150s within the first quarter mile and stayed there. Basically, since I didn't want to overdo it, I needed my heart rate to be in the low 150s ( really should have been in the 140s, but I really did not want to go any slower than I was going).

I planned to go 3 miles but after 2.5 miles my right leg - hamstring and calf - started to get a bit sore. I was a bit nervous given the fact that the pharmacist told me one of the (very rare) side effects for Levaquin is a ruptured tendon...I wasn't taking any chances today.

Final stats - 2.5 miles, 30:08. 151 average HR.

It's gotta get better than that. And soon!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sinus Infection

I went to the doctor yesterday morning after feeling yucky for almost a full week.

It's official. I have a sinus infection. I got me some antibiotics to try and kick this thing out of my system - and at least get rid of some of the congestion before I travel to California on Monday morning.

Who knows, if I feel better enough by tomorrow, perhaps I'll even go for a run...

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Need To Get Healthy!

I'm still feeling rather blah and congested. That along with the fact that half the sidewalks in the 'hood are still not shoveled, I have not been running.

What is making the not running part hurt so much more is reading about other running friends of mine who are going out for 20 mile runs this weekend. Not that I love a 20 miler (to me it is a necessary evil of marathon training...) but it's that I haven't even had a 20 mile week yet in 2010.

I really need to get running back into my routine.

Once I feel better, that is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow, Snow - Go Away!

It's been another 10 days since I have blogged. As I remarked during my last post, the busy-ness was not going to let up any time soon. Add about 50" of snow on top of that - and feeling icky on top of all that - there has been very little running and no blogging.

I managed to squeeze in a run on Friday morning. I went to the gym in anticipation of doing a treadmill interval run. I set the treadmill to a jog speed of 5.5 mph and a run speed of 7.5, but when I started that first quarter mile interval I just didn't have it. I felt weak. At first I thought that I was tired since it was early in the morning. However, when interval two - bumped down to 7.2 mph - also felt too much I knew two things - 1) there was no way I could continue this as speedwork...back to an easy run for me, and 2) I was likely coming down with a cold.

By the next morning, I was starting to sniffle and cough a bit. Definitely not a good time for this - as 30 inches of snow fell on my town between Friday night and Saturday night.

So, my exercise (not of choice, but of necessity) over the weekend was shoveling snow.

And - when I finally got everything shoveled out, we're getting an additional 20 inches of snow from last night through tonight. I woke up this morning and shoveled the back of my house - to my home office and also the driveway. About an hour later you wouldn't even know I shoveled.

All of this, and my head feels heavy and congested. Ick.

The good news - I'm heading to Southern California for work again next week. I'm hoping the weather improves there as it has been raining a bunch this week over there. But I'll definitely take rain over snow right now...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yes...I'm Still Here!

It has been 10 days since my last blog post. Wow! I don't think I have gone that long without posting to the blog since I started at the end of December 2007.

Things have just been really busy - my current project is based in SoCal so I feel like I'm working both in the Eastern and Pacific time zones, and I'm trying to balance this along with family time, Israeli Dance commitments and prepping our taxes.

I haven't been running as much - this can be attributed as much to the weather as it can to being busy. Since I came back from SoCal last Thursday night, I have run 5 times - 4 of them on the treadmill. And each of those runs have been "squeezed" in.

For example - this morning my younger son woke up at 3:45am (and woke us up too). He fell back asleep shortly afterwards, but I was still tossing and turning. By 5am I still wasn't asleep, so I decided to head to the gym (it was 10 degrees outside with many parts of the sidewalks not shoveled from Saturday's snow...). I'm glad I got a run in at that time as I don't see any other spot in my schedule today where I could run.

But at least I'm running a little. Which is more than I can say about blogging! No posts for 10 days? What gives? Additionally, I just checked my Google Reader of the blogs that I follow - I have 134 unread posts - YIKES! How will I ever catch up???

The worst part (or best part - depending on how you look at it)...I don't see it letting up anytime soon. This project will keep me busy through April at least, and my customer is discussing adding a Phase 2 that will go through July or August. I can't really complain about that - I like my job and it's great to have work - but it's also nice to run, keep this blog updated and read other blogs (and it will return in that order, of course!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Miscellaneous Musings From A Road Warrior...

It looks like my current project will have me on the road - traveling to Southern California - once a month for the next few months. I have never traveled this often in the 16+ years that I have been working....

When I was in my late 20s, my job at the time had me traveling once every 6-8 weeks or so for 2-3 nights at a time. I was living in Dallas and I had the opportunity to travel to New Jersey a lot for a project with AT&T. I would burn the midnight oil by driving into New York City and hang out with my sister or go Israeli Dancing, staying out until well past midnight, going to work the next day and crashing when I got back home to Dallas. For some reason, I'm following a similar pattern even now. I was in Irvine for four nights - two of those nights I drove up to Los Angeles (about an hour each way) to go Israeli dancing. On Monday night I left LA at 11pm and got to the hotel a little after midnight. Last night I stayed in LA until midnight and arrived at my hotel at about 1:15am. I was still in the office by 8am the next morning. The problem in all of kids are early birds so I will not get to crash and catch up on the sleep that I didn't get this week....

Talking about going back to being in my 20s, one of the nice folks I met at Israeli Dancing last night asked me how long I have been dancing. I stopped to think about this for a few seconds and then said that I guess I have been dancing for close to 20 years. She shook her head in disbelief - she said that I looked way to young...she thought I was in my 20s! Later in our conversation I told her that I don't know too many of the recent dances since I haven't been dancing as much since I had kids. Again a surprised look from her - you're too young to have kids!!! Maybe acting like a 20-something this past week made me look a little younger....

For those of you who don't believe in the power of Social Networking and the internet, this one is for you. My blog is fed over to my Facebook profile, and after I posted about my soaked run on Monday morning a high-school friend of mine wrote me a note that he was also in Irvine, CA for business this week. Whoa! We haven't seen each other in 18 or 19 years. We met for dinner on Tuesday night and it was great to reconnect with him. This reunion never would have happened without social networking apps....

Oh, yeah. This is my running blog. Right. While in rain-soaked Southern California this week I got two runs in. One on Monday morning in the dark and in the rain, and one on Tuesday afternoon. After the rain stopped - and tornado warnings lifted - the sun came out. My project schedule for that night's activities had been sent out already, so I slipped out of the office and went for a run on the Mountains to Sea trail - running towards the ocean. This trail is built on the creek bed that is used as a drainage system. Last month when I ran on this path it was totall dry. On Tuesday afternoon it looked like I was running on the bank of the Potomac River near Great Falls! The trail has underpasses under the roads so runners and cyclists don't have to dodge traffic. However, on Tuesday many of these underpasses were flooded so I had to cross the streets. Except for one which I could not cross - Interstate 405. I ended up having to trudge through a wet mud/sand mixture under the I-405 underpass. It wasn't all that bad, though - there was a Great Blue Heron perched on the bank by the underpass and I ran right near him. What an amazing creature....

Before I was a runner, I don't think I ever saw a Great Blue Heron. I now have seen them on many runs - on my community's lake, running along the C&O canal, while I was running in Boynton Beach, FL and now while running in Irvine, CA. I didn't know what I was missing before I started running....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Splashing In The Dark

I'm in Irvine, CA for business this week. Being that my body is still on East Coast time, I was up early this morning and ready for a run. But it was raining...and dark.

I waited a bit - until 6am here - until I finally left my hotel room, but the sun was no where in sight. Oh well...

I headed out in the direction of the Mountain to Sea Trail, but there was no sidewalk on the side of the street I started on. I crossed to the other side of the street and there was no sidewalk there either, but there was a dirt and gravel path. As I started down the road, though, there was less gravel and more dirt - or should I say mud. Each step felt like the ground was trying to suck my shoes off of my feet. I looked over to the opposite side of the street and found that a sidewalk had started there - nice! I jumped off the dirt path to cross the street and landed in a deep puddle - I also felt mud sling off my shoe and onto my calves.

Luckily I don't take myself too seriously all the time, because the first 1/3 of a mile on this run was a train wreck!

After I finally got onto the sidewalk I got into a groove. About a mile in I passed by someone huddled up in a hooded sweatshirt under an umbrella - probably walking to work. "On your left!" I exclaimed in a joyful tone to let him know I wanted to pass him. He took one look at me - in my shorts, t-shirt and reflective vest - and probably thought I was insane. He did manage a "Good morning" to greet me back.

About 1.5 miles from the hotel is an entrance onto the Mountain to Sea trail. This looked very much like the other bike trails I ran on the last time I was in Irvine (but instead of a dry creek bed there was a good amount of water flowing this time because of the rain). I must admit, I was a little bit nervous running here alone in the dark. I was not afraid of being attacked or mugged by another person - however, I was a bit unsure whether there were any nocturnal critters living near the creek bed that would like to eat a runner as a midnight snack. I've come across foxes and coyotes on the routes near my home in the dawn hours...I wasn't sure if there were similar dangers here.

I ran on the trail for a little over a mile. I then turned back towards the hotel so my full run would be in the 4.5 mile range.

Along the way there were plenty more deep puddles to (accidentally) run through. By the time I got back to my hotel I was soaked from head to toe - and still had a bit of mud over my legs. I'm it was quite a sight!

Run stats were 4.68 miles at a 9:51/mile pace. Avg HR of 153. And probably one of my wettest runs to date.

Friday, January 15, 2010

...And Sometimes You Have To Put Work Aside And Go Run

Today, the mercury hit the mid-50s in the DC area. That's pretty much a heat-wave compared to the bitterness that we've been experiencing. I soooooo wanted to run today.

However, my work-day looked Outlook calendar showed meeting after meeting after meeting. Basically, there was no free time between 10am and 6pm.

Or maybe there was...

I took a closer look and saw that between 11am and 12noon the only thing on my calendar was a daily conference call in which I present my project status for about 5 minutes. Since my project is not related to most of the other ones being presented, I usually present first. That would mean I would have from 11:10am until 12 noon open. Just enough time for a 3 mile run around the lake, a quick shower and to grab something from the kitchen for lunch to eat at my desk during the conference call that starts at 12 noon (which I needed to be on for the duration, but in a "listen-only" mode). SCORE!

I decided since this needed to be fast - and since I was having a tough time running slowly outside anyhow, that I would do some type of speedwork on this 3 miler. As I was heading out the door I thought about gradually upping the pace throughout the about starting at 10min pace, then doing a 9min pace for mile 2 and an 8min pace for mile 3. Sounds like fun!

The first mile I was just so excited to be outside that I was running a bit too fast. I had to slow myself down many times as I worked my way to the perimeter of the neighborhood and towards the lake. Mile 1 came in at 9:43.

Mile 2 was nice and comfortable. I was running strong but not taxing myself. Again I needed to slow myself down as to not get carried away, but ended up a lot closer to my goal pace here. Mile 2 - 8:51.

Time to turn on the burners! I looked down at RedG a few times during this mile to see that I was running in the 7:30 to 7:40 pace. No wonder this felt so darn uncomfortable! I slowed down a bit - especially since the last quarter mile was uphill - but still ended up with a 7:41 mile 3 split.

As soon as I hit mile 3, I brought the pace down nice and slow, jogging easy back to the house. Overall it was a 3.19 mile run in 28:21. It was the fastest I have ever run this route (OK...I normally use it for a short easy run and not for speedwork). A far cry from my first entry on this route in my running log - July 14, 2005 when I ran this route in 42 minutes. What a difference four and a half years - and a few thousand miles - makes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cold, Dark....and DELIGHTFUL!

After yesterday's frustrating day of not running, I NEEDED to run today. I learned my lesson from yesterday and planned to run first thing in the morning.

I looked up the weather forecast. Overnight low - 20 degrees (YIKES!). Winds - calm (HOORAY!)

I stepped out the front door at around 6:15am. It was dark and cold....but I was so excited to be doing this again. It had been a full month since I got my behind out the door to run outside pre-dawn. First it was the snow, then it was the ice that never melted, then it was the wind (and all of this is underscored with a big dose of wimpyness!)

The plan was an easy paced run, but who am I kidding...when it's 20 degrees outside you run like hell until you warm up! I kept Mile 1 slow enough to maintain an average HR of 149 bpm my pace was 9:35. I managed to slow myself down a little bit and ended up the 4.5 mile run in a 9:49/mile pace with an average HR of 156.

The weather is warming up here - in the mid-40s today! - and I'll be in SoCal next week, so I should be able to keep my easy runs at a bit of an easier pace over the next 10 days.

On this morning's run I listened to some early Joe Jackson. I had my iPod in the car last night and decided to spin the wheel and listen to an album I hadn't heard in a while. I ended up on Look Sharp! Nice. I love how his early stuff is so simple and did not go overboard in the recording production. I can just imagine him and his band jamming in the studio together to make the songs - not laying down tracks to be pieced together later. This morning I was still in that kind of mood so I put I'm The Man and Look Sharp! in the iPod shuffle.

Ahhhh. Good tunes, fresh air and the stress release of a morning run. Today will be a much better day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Hate It When Work Gets In The Way Of My Run!!!

I planned to run during my lunch break today. I'm working at my new office in Reston - two blocks away from my gym and right on the W&OD Trail. The weather is a bit warmer today, so I was hoping for a lunchtime run in sunny 40 degree weather!

Then reality set in. A few small issues at work spiraled into endless conference calls of reiteration. Time slipped away until finally I was able to peel my tush off my desk chair - at 1:45pm.


No run. Just a quick lunch before heading back to the office.

I'm starting to remember why I like to run first thing in the morning...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Two Cold Outdoor Runs And Too Many Indoors

In the 11 days so far in 2010, I have run 7 times - all but 2 have been inside on the treadmill. Have I become a gym rat??? (or perhaps a hamster in a wheel???)

My two outdoor runs came on Tuesday during lunchtime and on Saturday afternoon. Both days the temperatures climbed above freezing to 35 degrees - and on both days the wind chills were about 24 degrees. Hard to believe that this was during the warmest part of the day!

I think the hardest part of these runs was getting out the door. The first mile is always difficult - running faster than I should just to warm up - but once I get going I don't feel so cold.

Tuesday's lunchtime run quickly became a tempo run. Mile 1 was in 9:05 and since I was relatively warm at that point I had no interest in slowing down. There were a few points during the run where gusts of wind made me feel like I was running in place, but overall I was able to cut through the wind and finish my 4.5 miles in a 9:16/mile pace.

My plan for Saturday's run was to be 7 to 8 miles so I could hit 20 miles for the week. I was reading torah at synagogue that morning (and had to be there on time...) so I decided to run afterward. Good thing as it was much colder and windier in the morning when I was walking the quarter mile to synagogue.

Again, my first mile was faster to warm up - a 9:32 pace - but then brought it closer to a 10:00/mile pace. After about 4 miles of pretty clear sidewalks and roads, I started to hit stretches of snowy, icy sidewalks and heavier gusts of wind. On top of all of that, my nasal passages were starting to rebel a bit.

On my community-perimeter route of a little over 7 miles, there are a few "drop out" points to cut the run short to 5.5 miles or 6.25 miles. I nearly took the 5.5 mile drop out, but I pushed forward. As I approached the 6.25 drop out point, I decided that this was the way to go. I finished the 6.25 miles at a 9:50/mile pace. My weekly run total was 18.7 miles...not yet 20 miles, but close.

I actually had another chance to push my weekly total over 20 miles as I ended up at the gym on Sunday morning with the rest of the family (the kids actually love going to the babysitting room as they get to play Mario Kart!). However, I used this as a cross-training day instead of running. I did a bunch of stretching and core exercises and used two pieces of equipment that were new to me - the TechnoGym Wave and the Nautilus Stairmaster machine.

WOW! These machines KILLED me! I was only on the Wave for 8 minutes and my quads and glutes were burning. I could not get myself to move very smoothly on that thing and I was tired of the herky-jerky movement, so I decided to get off and move on. I went over to the Stairmaster. This machine looks like an escalator - an endless escalator. I stayed on that machine for 22 minutes and I was dripping with sweat....I actually felt like I was melting! It's pretty ironic that I can run for over an hour and never get that sweaty, yet 20 minutes on the Stairmaster and I was done for. I guess if I do these machines more often, my body will get used to this type of movement and it will get easier.

One other item from the gym. After running on the treadmill, I normally go to one of the sets of pull up bars and hang from them for a few seconds. I get a nice stretch and release in my shoulders and neck (I think "release" is chiropractor speak for snap, crackle and pop!). Well, the other day after my stretch I decided to try to do a pull up (I have NEVER been able to do these). On my first try last week I got about 3/4 of the way up - not bad! Today I made it all the way up and did my first unassisted pull up! I'm hoping there will be many more to come...having a goal like this makes going to the gym a little more palatable.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Post Of 2010!

Last week I reflected on 2009 - and what a great year it was! I hope that 2010 can prove to be as successful as last year...but even if I accomplish half of what I did last year it will still be a wonderful year.

My final mileage count for 2009 was 1,047 miles. Of course I take a look at that and say to myself, "Why couldn't I just go for a short 3 miler on Dec 31 to get it to 1,050???"

Another accomplishment from 2009 came in the form of weight management. I started out the year at 172 pounds. On Jan 1 of 2010 I weighed in at 168. I'm still not where my doctor wants me to be (between 155 and 160), but it's nice to see the downward trend - especially AFTER the holidays are over!

I really have no motivation right now to get those last 10 pounds off. I know how to do it (I was very successful using this approach), it's just that I have no interest in counting calories right now. Anyone have some spare motivation for me out there????

Despite the yucky, cold, windy, icy conditions so far this year, I have been running. It's just that I have only been running inside so far. I have logged 16 miles in 2010 - a 4.5 miler on Jan 1, a 7.5 miler on Jan 2 (yes...7.5 miles on the treadmill - UGH!) and a 4 miler this morning. One of these days I'll toughen up and run outside...probably when the wind isn't gusting over 20 mph.

I still haven't set my goals for the new year yet. I'd like to log over 1,000 miles again, but with no full marathon I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. I'm going to have to be super consistent to get there. As soon as I get my goals together I will definitely share...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflecting On 2009

Most of the blogs I read have already done a "reflecting on the past year" post... 'Tis the season, right?

I took a look back at last year's entry on Dec 31. I had just finished quite an amazing year with many feats in running - both in conquering the marathon distance for the first time along with setting some new PRs. But as amazing as 2008 was, 2009 really blew it out of the water:
  • I finally surpassed the 1,000 mile marker for the year. Last year I fell 30 miles short and couldn't make it up during December due to falling ill with bronchitis during the last two weeks.
  • Actually, 2009 was quite a healthy year for me. No real injuries (some hamstring pain after the NY Marathon, but I dealt with that much better this year). I had a few colds, but nothing longer than a week.
  • I ran my second marathon - the NY Marathon on November 1. I ran this as part of Team Run To Remember, in memory of my Nana. I raised close to $6,000 (there's still time to donate here so you can rack up those charitable donations and reduce your tax burden!!!) and met some really great people in the process.
  • For the first time, I started running with other people on a more regular basis. I started by going up to New York for a few of the team runs and then found a few running friends in the area to do some long runs with. Although 80-90% of my runs are still solo, I do enjoy running with others when we can schedule it.
  • I ran my first race with my wife Sherry - the Rockville Twilight 8K. Again, going with the running with other people theme, I hope to continue to run a few races with Sherry!
  • I set new PRs in the marathon, half marathon and 10K (alright...maybe 6 miles), and during the 10K I also ran a faster 5K and mile splits than my previous PRs in those distances.
  • In blogging, I have expanded my audience by linking my blog feed and my RunningAhead log to Facebook. I love having more people reading the blog and following my progress, however, sometimes it's a bit cumbersome to read comments in two places.
  • At work, I launched my largest project to date and started another project that will last at least 4 to 5 months. company filed for bankruptcy in January, my division was bought out in August and I am now working for a new company.
There may be other accomplishments in 2009 that I may not have mentioned...I guess I have a few more days to remember them and throw them in the blog :-)

I also need to start thinking about goals for 2010. There are two things that I'm pretty sure about: a) NO FULL MARATHON in 2010 and b) I will be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler as I received a spot in their lottery.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Long-ish Run On The Treadmill

I again was a wimp and did not want to run outside this morning. The temps were a bit below freezing and with the rain and melting snow from Saturday there were going to be some icy patches - but truth be told I just didn't want to run in the cold today.

I got to the gym when it opened at 7am and after a little stretching got started on one of the TechnoGym treadmills.

Over the summer when I was in marathon training craziness, there were a few mid-week "longer" runs which I ran during my lunch break - and since it was summertime (and HOT) I ran them on the treadmill. However, most of the treadmills at my gym have a 60 minute limit programmed in. So I would have to stop after 60 minutes and then re-start the treadmill. I complained to the manager to see if he could "un-program" the treadmills and remove the 60 minute limit.

After a few weeks of asking he finally told me that they were able to remove the limit on the TechnoGym treadmills - but not the LifeFitness ones. Ironically, by this time it was already late September and I never ran a long session on the treadmill after they were changed.

Today - nearly 4 months later - was the first time I actually ran more than 60 minutes on the treadmill. As I neared 60 minutes I was watching the clock and the screen to see if the 'mill was going to stop me, but the clock kept on going past 60:01. Hooray!

I ended up going 7 miles in 77:17 - a nice, easy 11:03/mile pace. I kept the incline at 1% and the speed between 5.3 and 5.5 mph throughout the entire run.

At the beginning of the run I had thought that the heart rate monitor was giving me some high false readings. My heart rate was in the low 160s - and at this pace it is usually about 15 bpm lower. After the first mile - and the readings not changing - I figured it out...I had donated blood on Wednesday! It usually takes me a good 2 weeks to get my HR down to my "normal" training level after giving blood.

Later in the run, though, I realized that the HRM WAS giving me false readings. At around 4.5 miles, the HRM on the treadmill was showing in the low 140s / high 130s. Then it would jump to the 160s. Then it wouldn't show up at all for about 30 seconds.

I finally had enough of this nonsense and took the heart rate strap off. If I wasn't going to get an accurate reading, why should I wear the darn thing! To top off the nonsense - every 2 minutes or so, the treadmill's HRM would pick up a signal from the heart rate strap and display a really low HR (in the 100s or 90s) for about a minute.

Bottom line - I really need to get a new Polar heart rate strap to run with at the gym.

I normally would be bored to tears running a steady pace on the treadmill for over an hour and 15 minutes. However, this morning I ran to some new tunes. Yes, I have been a faithful viewer of Glee since the pilot over the summer (I was in my High School's chamber choir and the UofM Glee Club) and I finally broke down and bought the music (both albums) on iTunes. I knew I would need something to get me through this run!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Demoted To The Treadmill

With the 20" of snow that hit our area this past weekend, I have not been able to run outside. I guess I could run in the street - most of the sidewalks are still a mess - but since I normally run early in the morning (which is still dark nowadays) I don't want to be running in the street.

I have made it to the gym though. Monday morning I ran 4.5 easy miles and this morning I did some speedwork on the treadmill - 5 x 1/2 mile intervals with 1/4 mile recoveries.

I'm glad I got the running in this morning, since I decided to give blood during my lunch break. It had been a while since I donated, so I'm glad I had a chance to go today.

With some freezing rain coming on Christmas Eve, it looks like I'll be running on the treadmill for at least another few days. UGH!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Four Days In A Row!

A few years ago when I started running, I made it a habit to always take a day off after a run. I felt my body needed a rest and that I didn't want to over train. (I was already almost 35 years old when I took up this habit) I was running three days a week - twice during the week and once on the weekend.

I remember that last year when I started training for my first marathon and my training plan dictated four runs per week, one of my biggest concerns was whether my body would be able to adjust to the times where I ran on consecutive days. After about two weeks of the four-day-a-week regimen, my body was fine. No injuries. I didn't get sick from overdoing it. Consecutive days - no problem!

I still only run four days a week on average. Some weeks I'll throw an extra run in to make it five days. However, I still have two or three rest days each week. So far, so good - no injuries and I still do not get sick very often.

This week has been quite an anomaly though. I have run on four consecutive days! (and the wheels aren't falling off!).

Tuesday morning I got out of the house early enough for a morning run. I ran one of my 3 mile neighborhood loops. I started out a bit fast and didn't want to slow down, so I threw in a few fartleks and made it a speedwork run.

Wednesday afternoon I was able to get to the gym on my lunch break and hit the treadmill for a recovery run. 3.5 miles at a treacherously slow pace to keep my heart rate in the low 140s.

On Thursday, I had a bunch of afternoon meetings cancel on me - so I went for another run at the gym. This time I did more speedwork. Pyramid intervals of 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 mile with 1/4 mile recoveries.

I was set with my weekday runs and planning to go long on Saturday or Sunday. Except that I started looking at the weather report. They are calling for 7-15 inches of snow starting Friday night and not ending until Sunday morning. Did I mention that the Washington, DC area freaks out at 7-15 millimeters of snow!

So I realized that I was not going to run this weekend. Karma came through and my 11:30am conference call got cancelled and my next call was at 2pm. Just enough time for a run, a shower and to shovel down something for lunch at my desk :-) I got dressed in my cold weather gear and went for a 4.5 mile run in 32 degree overcast afternoon.

After my last post complaining that I have not been running much lately, it was great to get four consecutive days of running in!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Not Much Running = Not Much Blogging

Partially due to hectic scheduling and partially due to the fact that I've been really tired lately - I have not run much over the past week. I managed to get to the gym for a 4 mile easy run on the treadmill on Saturday morning and I got my behind out of the house this morning for a 3+ mile tempo/fartlek run.

7 miles in 7 days? That's all????

Of course, this is the WORST time of year to reduce my mileage. Between holiday cookies, donuts and latkes I'm afraid to even approach the scale.

I'm not sure what the whole fatigue factor is either. Perhaps it's poor diet? (see above paragraph...) Perhaps I really am fighting off some kind of bug? Or maybe the lack of sleep has accumulated and finally caught up to me. I won't have an opportunity to catch up on sleep over the next few days either due to Israeli Dance responsibilities which will keep me out later than usual. Perhaps I can hit the sack early on Thursday??? (and then an early morning run on Friday!!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Running :-(

I'm feeling a bit run down and I know I need more sleep so this doesn't become a full-out cold. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to bed early the past two nights so my body compensated with sleeping in.

I was planning to run this morning. I got my gym bag together last night (the overnight forecast called for strong winds...not great weather to run in outside), but when I finally woke up this morning my clock said 7:15! Yikes! Time for the morning scramble...on overdrive this time!!!

Anyhow, there's no way I'll get a run in during the day today since my schedule is packed. I'll try to get to sleep earlier tonight and go for a run tomorrow morning. Overnight lows are supposed to be 19 degrees...I'll likely try the gym in the morning rather than brave the elements.

Monday, December 7, 2009

1,000 Miles! I DID IT!!!!

I finally hit 1,000 miles for the year during today's run! Hooray!!!

I actually intended to hit the milestone on Saturday morning. The forecast was calling for snow that morning and I was thinking I would go out for a little over a 7 mile run (I was at 992.7 miles for the year before that run). I was looking forward to a winter wonderland run - powdery snow lightly falling down with the Nutcracker Suite playing on my iPod.

When I woke up, it was not snowing yet - just cold rain...yuck! I switched the tunes on my iPod from the Nutcracker to some mellow classic rock before heading out into the gray, rainy morning. I threw on my microfiber pullover also, to protect me from the rain and wind.

Somewhere in the first mile of my run, the rain started turning to snow. Not a light, powdery snow, though. It was a wet snow with huge flakes. And at times during my run, it was snowing pretty heavily.

So, by mid-run my pullover was soaked from the initial rain plus the temperatures were starting to drop with the snow. I decided to cut the run short and I'd have to hit 1,000 another day.

That day was today. I hit the gym at lunch for an easy run on the treadmill. It was nothing too exciting - except seeing those numbers after posting the workout in my training log.

2009: 1,001.9 miles

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Week Of Contrasts

As I got off the plane last night in BWI Airport, it was quiet. Deserted. What a contrast from when I left on Sunday afternoon - the hustle, bustle of Thanksgiving weekend travel (really...what was I thinking agreeing to go on a business trip the weekend after Thanksgiving???).

However, it was not the only contrast that I had observed this past week.

First of all, the contrast of being alone in a hotel room versus being at home. In some ways, it was nice not having household responsibilities to worry about. My time was my own - I didn't have to juggle my time between the schedules of my wife and kids. In some ways it was very nice, but on the other hand gets lonely quick. Whenever I'm on a business trip I try to spend the least amount of time that I can in the actual hotel room.

Most of the time I'm out of town, I try to go to an Israeli Dance group - and this week was no exception! I met up with a few people that I knew - and met some other dancers as well. Israeli Dancing in a different city is always a great experience - the familiar music, everyone moving together as one large group and the social aspect of meeting people with a similar interest definitely makes me feel more at home while on the road. On my hour-drive back from dancing in LA to my hotel in Irvine, I reflected on the contrasts between my two current hobbies - Israeli dancing and running. Israeli dance groups are almost always at night (and many groups go until midnight or later) while I usually run early in the mornings (it's hard to dance one night and run the next morning...). Israeli dancing is an activity that involves interacting with lots of people while I'm usually running alone or with one other person. Apart from the fact that both are physical activities (dancing is more anaerobic - normally there's a good 30 second break between the time one dance ends and the next one starts - where running is continuous aerobic exercise for a long period of time), these two hobbies seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum from one another.

There is also a big contrast between the project I'll be working on in SoCal vs the one I recently completed in the DC area. My current project is all dealing with live equipment - so all activities must be done at night (I'm hoping I won't need to be working at night with our crews most of the time!). Also, since it is established equipment in our customer's network, they already have their way of doing things. I felt my role this week was more to find out what the current processes are so I don't step on too many toes while starting out. My last project was a completely new build. Work was done during the day and I could create the way of doing things with my team. This new project will be different, but I'm up for the challenge!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Finding My Way Through Irvine

I'm in Irvine, CA for business. I'm kicking off a new project with one of our largest customers. It's a great opportunity for me, even if I am only "on loan" to this other group for the time being.

I have mixed feelings about business trips - I don't mind the travel and I love being in new places. However, I also like having my routine...and business trips really messes that up.

I finally arrived at my hotel on Sunday night at 11:30pm Pacific (that's 2:30am in my home Eastern time zone). My cellphone rang at 2am Pacific with issues at one of the maintenance window activities I was managing. By the time I "woke up" in the morning, I was really tired and in no mood for a run.

After the workday, I decided to head out for dinner and watch Monday Night Football - which starts at 6pm out here. Wow! I walked over to an awesome place called the Yard House and had some very good food (seared tuna and hot spinach and cheese dip) and excellent beer (Young's Chocolate Stout and Maredsous 8). On the way back from the restaurant, I found that there was a bike path behind my hotel - and I had seen the path on my walk to the restaurant - so I knew what I was going to do for my run the next morning!

One of the benefits to running with a Garmin Forerunner (305), is that I no longer need to meticulously map out my runs beforehand to see where I'm going to go and how long it is going to take. I can just get up and go - RedG maps everything out and tells me how far I have gone. As long as I remember where I'm going - so I can get back to point A - I don't have to think too much about my route anymore.

I ended up waking up a little before 5am (this Pacific time zone stuff is killing me!). It was still dark outside so I waited about an hour until the sun started coming up. It was a crisp 50 degrees, and although there was a chill in the air it felt great running in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt again. I guess 50 degrees is cold for California since everyone else who was out on the bike path that morning was bundled up!

The path ran against a wide creek bed that was completely dry. I suppose that when it rains here, this probably flows like a river - there were lots of signs warning about flooding conditions. The trail was very nice - a wide asphalt path that went under the major streets. No worrying about stopping for traffic or watching for cars - awesome!

I ran for about a mile and a quarter, and then the path stopped at a street that it did not go under. When I got up to the road, there was no crosswalk and there was a median in the middle of the road. I guess it was time to turn back towards the hotel and then continue on past the hotel. After passing the hotel, I was able to go another mile before the path ended in that direction. So my out-and-back one way and out-and-back the other way route was a bit over 4.5 miles. I had run nice and easy at a 10:15/mile average pace.

Later today, I took a look at Google maps to figure out if this path goes further than that street where I stopped on my way out. It ends up that if I go up to the street, turn right and go about a tenth of a mile, I'll be able to pick up the path to go under the road and continue on. And there's a long network of paths after that. looks like I'll be good for a longer run tomorrow and/or on Thursday. Woo hoo!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back To The 20 Mile Week

My normal "base training" while not focusing on a particular race has been a 20 mile week. I usually run 4 times a week - 3 weekday runs of 3-5 miles and a longer weekend run in the 6-10 mile range.

Since the marathon, I haven't had a 20 mile week yet. First it was due to recovery and then it was due to time constraints.

This past week had its fair share of time constraint issues, but I was able to squeeze in runs where I could and I logged 21 miles over five runs. Hooray!

These runs included slipping out for a 4.5 mile run on Thanksgiving morning after the turkey was in the oven, meeting up with a friend that I went to high school and UofM with (neither of us were runners back then and we only reconnected when he searched for descriptions of the Turkey Chase and found my blog!), and a short Sunday morning run.

Sunday's run was chilly - about 31 degrees. It was my first sub-freezing run of the season. I wore running tights, a heavier long sleeve shirt and a beanie...winter is a-coming! I didn't want to run long because I traveled later that afternoon to Irvine, CA for work. I left my house at around 12:30pm Eastern and finally arrived at my hotel around 11:30pm Pacific - 14 hours door to door. Yuck.

However, when I walked out of my hotel this morning I saw how beautiful the weather was. I am so psyched to run out here!!!

BTW...if you take a look over on my training log, I have now logged 978.9 miles for the year. If I repeat last week's 21.1 miles, I will hit my 1,000 mile goal! Woo hoo!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Few Cold And Rainy Runs

Work has been really busy this week - trying to pack almost 5 days of work into 3 days. Even though I have Friday off, I'll likely work a little. I'm starting a new project - and traveling out to Irvine, CA next week to meet with the internal and customer teams and get the whole thing kicked-off. It's very exciting...yet it is tough to get to everything in my normal routine. (and it will be nice to run in some warmer weather...)

Luckily, I haven't totally abandoned running (blogging, reading other's blogs and spending time on Facebook have all been put by the wayside).

On Monday - the day after my 6 mile (not 10K) race - I slipped out at lunchtime for a easy recovery run. It was a cold and misty afternoon, so of course I started out a bit too fast in order to get warm quicker. A bit after my 8:59 first mile, it started to rain...and I started to run faster. When a mostly uphill Mile 2 came in at 9:17, and the rain started to come down harder, I decided that this was not going to be an "easy recovery run" anymore. I started to haul it back home. Last mile was in an 8:22 pace, and last third of a mile in an 8:04 pace. 3.3 miles in 29:06...not exactly a recovery run for me.

On Wednesday morning I took my wife's car into the shop and decided to run while waiting. I headed out for an easy run - again in the cold rain. This time I was able to keep the going a bit slower. I ran 3.5 miles at a 9:43/mile pace. The best was coming back and looking at all of the aggravated people waiting for their cars at the shop...I was able to avoid that annoying wait by using the time wisely and getting a run in!

Today is Turkey Day! Unfortunately, no Turkey Chase 10K. But if I get my act together, I may be able to go for a short run while the turkey is in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Decision On The How To Count Yesterday's Race

After some discussions on Facebook and RunningAhead, I have decided to change my running log entry for yesterday's race and use the Garmin mileage instead of calling it a 10K.

So, yesterday WAS a PR. It was just not for 10K, but for 6.01 miles.

And along the way, I smoked my PRs for the 5K and 1 mile as well. I guess I'll need to find some more races.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 Cold Turkey 10K Race Report

The Cold Turkey 10K is a small race (448 runners this year) held by the Annapolis Striders. Since I was not able to run some of the other local Thanksgiving races - and I wanted to test my post-marathon conditioning with a 10K - I signed up for this race.

I must say, this race was a great value. The pre-registration cost of the race for non-club members was $18 which included a long-sleeved moisture-wicking shirt and a great food spread after the race. For frugal runners like me, this was a great race!

However, there was one small problem - I think that this 10K race was shorter than 10K. RedG measured it at 6.01 miles - and he normally measures races long. There were some other Garmin wearers that also measured the course short.

Normally, having a short course on a small race wouldn't concern me much....but today I was a bit upset since I ran a PR. A significant PR.

My previous 10K PR - set in 2006 - was 56:14...a 9:03/mile pace. Today, I finished the race in 49:04 - a seven minute PR. If the course was a true 10K, that would put me at a 7:54/mile pace. If I go by Garmin's pacing, I ran the course in a 8:07/mile pace - equivalent to a 50:27 overall time or a near six minute PR.

Either way, it's a big PR. However, I have no idea how to log this one. With the "official time" although the course distance is short? Or with the extrapolated time - which really isn't what I ran.

One other note about this PR - my 5K PR is 25:17 - or a 8:09/mile pace. Which means I blew by THAT PR during today's race as well. WOW!

All of this talk about PRs is a bit surprising given the way the race started for me. It's a small race with no pace groups, no chip times or anything like that. People lined up where they thought they would need to be - I chose the middle of the pack. The starting siren went off and everyone started to run. Or jog. Or walk. Which meant I was trying to weave in and out of runners - and trying not to bowl anyone down - during the first mile.

When I crossed the line the official clock was at 12 seconds - not too bad given what I am now used to with larger races. After the first turn there were a few puddles I avoided, but then I realized my left shoelace had come untied. I had forgotten to double-knot my shoes before the race...what an idiot! I got off to the side to re-tie my shoes and I probably lost about 45 seconds.

I got back up and started to run strong. I totally missed the Mile 1 marker, but this is the marker that most people said came too soon (and the rest of the mile markers were correctly 1 mile apart). RedG chirped in when he measured his first mile and it displayed 8:44. Given that I had lost time tying my shoes, I could not believe I was going that fast.

Mile 2 was on an uphill slope. Still feeling really good I attacked the hill and passed many runners. Also, since this was an out-and-back course, it felt good to know that mile 5 would be mostly downhill. When the Mile 2 marker came up, RedG measured 1.85. This continued at all of the mile markers - Garmin measured them at .15 miles shorter. My Mile 2 split (according to RedG) was 8:40. Still on pace for a PR!

A little after Mile 2, the course turned left onto a residential street with some rolling hills. The hills were not long, but they were a bit on the steep side. This was out-and-back as well, so I knew some of the steeper uphills would be downhills on the way back. I was still feeling strong and kept pushing - attacking the uphills and coasting on the downhills. Mile 3 split - 7:59. Mile 4 split - 8:25. I had this PR!!!

Now I was heading back towards the High School where the race finished. This stretch was downhill and I still had a lot left in the tank so I started to turn on the burners. When I passed the mile 5 marker on the course, I took a look at my watch and saw that I was at 40 minutes. Wow! Even though my watch showed 4.85, I knew that I was a shoe in for a PR. Mile 5 split - 7:44.

One mile (or 1.2 miles) left. I had no idea if the extra distance would be tacked on at the end or not. Either way, I started to go for it even more. I continued to pass other runners up to the 6 mile marker on the course. Come to think of it, after I tied my shoes about 1/3 mile into the course, I passed by tons of runners, but I don't think I had a runner pass me.

With the last .2 left, I started to fatigue. I pushed myself to keep going, but I wasn't accelerating like I was since the mile 4 marker. I made the final turn, dug in deep and then saw the clock - 48:58, 48:59, 49:00... I passed the finish line in 49:04 - a huge 7 minute PR. RedG displayed the final distance as 6.01 - and my final mile 6 split of 7:19!!! My previous mile PR was 7:25 set last year...

I checked the results page and it looks like I came in 127th of 448 runners - in the top 30%! In five years of running I have moved from the back-of-the-pack to the front of the middle-of-the-pack runners. I set PRs in the 10K, 5K and mile - although the only one that I have a non-extrapolated time for is the mile :-)

I may need to find another 5K or 10K soon, though. Just so I can have some more "official" times.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pre-Race Thoughts - Cold Turkey 10K

Tomorrow morning I am running the Cold Turkey 10K near Annapolis. I normally run the Bethesda Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving Day, but we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year stuffing and roasting turkey.

What's strange is that I'm normally a bit more excited for a race than I am for this one. I've put very little thought into running this race and I have no idea what the course is like (hilly? crowd support? loop or out-and-back?). All I know is that I'm pre-registered (bib number is 93! I don't think I have ever had a bib number that low!!!).

Once I started thinking about the race earlier today, I became a bit nervous. With the marathon training I know that I can run better than my previous 10K race PR of 56:14. However, with my recent training of fewer miles (15 miles last week and with the 10K race I'll have 15 miles this week), I'm not sure whether all of that conditioning is still there. What a letdown it would be to NOT get a PR when a month ago it would have been a sure thing.

My strategy will be to try and run around a 9 minute mile pace for the full race and if I feel good in the second half start to pick up the pace. Worst case is that I run out of steam, need to slow down and I don't get the PR. Either way, I think I'll do better than my last few 10Ks - all Turkey Case races of over one hour.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two Treadmill Runs

My younger son had no nursery school Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week due to some conference that the teachers were attending. I guess it is nice that the teachers are getting some "continuing education" opportunities, but it just makes all of the non-Stay-at-Home-Parents need to scramble.

Our scramble was this - I took Wednesday and Friday morning off and all day Thursday off. I have some vacation to burn before the end of the year, so it was not a big deal for me.

On Thursday, I took my son on a road trip to the Statue of Liberty! I did the same thing with my older son 3 years ago when he was 4 years old and had the same situation. Although, on that trip we actually visited family afterwards and stayed in New York for a night. This time I just went up in the morning and back home in the evening.

With the scramble - the only way I was going to manage to get some runs in was to wake up early or take my son to the gym. So on Wednesday and Friday morning I went to the gym (for some reason I have not been able to wake up early lately...). My son played in the babysitting room which he loves. He plays SuperMario, watches television and runs around with other kids his age. What's not to like?

I focused on moderate intensity runs on the treadmill - based on Heart Rate. Wednesday's run was 4.5 miles at an average heart rate of 143 and an 11:00/mile pace. Today's run was a little higher on the heart rate - I started at 145 and bumped it up 2 bpm every mile until I hit 4.5 miles and then cooled down for half a mile. I ended up running at a 10:22/mile pace with an average heart rate of 147.

All said, I have 9.5 miles in this week which is pretty low. I have a 5K this weekend on Sunday, so the total weekly mileage will barely be over 15 miles. I used to run 15 miles before 9am!

Starting next week I need to get my behind in gear and get more miles in. Especially since we're in the Halloween to Thanksgiving to Channukah/Christmas/New Year's prime eating season...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Running = No Blogging

I haven't run in a few days and I'm starting to feel a bit lethargic. I just haven't been able to drag my lazy behind out of bed in the mornings (OK...we had a 4 year old visitor in the middle of the night twice last night) and I have been a bit too busy during the day to cram in a run.

The rest of the week is a strange schedule for me - my younger son's nursery school is off and since I have some vacation days to burn I'm taking half days on Wednesday and Friday and the full day off on Thursday.

I intend on going to the gym on Wednesday and Friday mornings and having my son play in the child care room while I run on the treadmill. Not ideal, but it will do.

Thursday, I'm going to take him to see the Statue of Liberty! I took my older son there when he was 4 years old and had a day off from his nursery school, so I decided to do the same thing with the little guy. Should be fun!

Sunday is the Cold Turkey 10K. A few weeks ago, I thought I would be going for a new 10K PR, but my training has been pretty on and off since the marathon. We'll see how I feel and if I still have kept that marathon conditioning!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Long Run - Sans Watch

I woke up Saturday morning ready to get in a long run before heading to synagogue with the family - like I normally do. I was planning to do somewhere in the 7-8 mile range and decided to run to the Rio center and either around one half of the lake (for about 7.6 miles) or around the lake one and a half times (for 8.3 miles).

The weather was still a bit on the chilly side - about 50 degrees - and overcast and misty with a few drizzles. Not beautiful, but not too bad for a run either.

I had laid out all of my clothes and gear the night before, but when I went to turn RedG on, he wouldn't wake up! This had happened once before - at the Rockville Twilight 8K race during the summer - but since then he has been trouble free. I decided I would just grab my old Polar HRM watch since I knew the total distance of the route and I wasn't so concerned about mile splits. I found the Polar watch and it was totally blank - the battery had died.

So off I went on my run - no watch and no heart rate monitor. I can't remember the last time I ran without a watch....I mean I'm so addicted to my running log that I NEED to have at least my distance and time, right?

The only piece of technology I had with me was my iPod shuffle. I had loaded some Idan Raichel albums onto the shuffle - good tunes to get lost in while going on a nice, long easy run.

I must tell you, the first mile or so was really strange. I'm always checking my HRM feedback every few minutes just to make sure I'm not overtraining or if I can pick up the pace a bit. I got to where I normally check my mile 1 split and there was nothing to check. Really. Strange.

However, I finally got into a groove. I was free to run - and I ran hard. There were a few hills that I decided to attack - and there was nothing telling me to slow down - so I never stopped.

When I got to the lake at Rio, I decided to go for the extra lap around the lake. Why not? I had no idea what time it was. I had no idea how fast I was running. It was just me, the drizzle and my tunes. What's not to love about that!

It's still a bit strange that my RunningAhead running log only has a distance for my run - no time, no pace, no average heart rate. However, I must say that after the first two miles or so, I really didn't mind running without the watch. Perhaps I'll do it more often when I'm not training for a goal race.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ch, Ch, Ch, Ch - CHANGES!

Well...the sale of Nortel's CDMA unit to Ericsson completed today, so I will be an Ericsson employee as of Monday. I'll have the same job, reporting to the same boss and working with the same customers and products - so the change is not too drastic. However, I've been working for Nortel for 16 years now - they were my first employer out of college - so switching to a new company will be somewhat of an adjustment.

Hopefully the learning curve of new systems (ordering, financial, telephone, email, expense reports, etc.) and the new corporate culture will not be too steep.

In other "changes" news, I'm always amazed to see when there is a shift in technology in how people communicate with one another. I get to see this pretty often within the Israeli Dance troupe for teens that I co-direct. When I started with the group about 7 years ago, the teens all had AIM screen names - and this seemed to be the main source of communication for them. If I needed to ask someone a question as to whether they could attend a particular performance, I would see if they were on AIM and IM them. A few years later, we started to do all of our performance scheduling on Evite. Last year, I saw that the Evite system wasn't working so well (many of the Evites got stuck in spam folders) and I realized that I needed to use Facebook.

In the span of 7 years I have been through 3 separate systems of communications. I wonder what next year will bring??

And one more thing about Facebook. I have been writing this blog since last January - it is almost two years old now! However, about a month ago I linked the blog into Facebook and I must have at least quadrupled my readership. This week I have bumped into so many people who have told me that they have been following my marathon training on Facebook. Nice!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sneaky Speed Run

I'm working a lot of nights this week for work. I knew that last night was going to be an all-nighter given the scope of what needed to be ends up that I did not get into bed until 5:45am! I have woken up earlier for a normal weekday run!!

I somehow was able to sleep until noon. I'm usually not a good daytime sleeper but I guess I really needed the sleep (OK...Benadryl definitely helped!)

I decided to go for a quick run before getting to work. 4 easy miles was the plan.

I looked out the window and it seemed like the rain had stopped. However, it was still a bit chilly and windy, so I wore my microfiber pullover. This was a good call as it definitely helped with the wind and it started to rain a bit mid run.

Since it was chilly, my body wanted to move to warm up. I looked down at RedG to get my first mile split - 9:26. I wanted to slow down after that, but I kept up the pace to keep myself warm. Mile 2 split - 9:51.

At this point I decided that if I was already running sub-10 minute miles, this wasn't going to be an "easy" run. I may as well start running and a good clip, attack the hills, etc. Mile 3 - 9:15.

As I worked my way back into the neighborhood, I must have turned on the burners a bit. I know I wasn't going full out - I would have remembered pushing it hard if I was - but my pace over the last mile sped up to 8:49.

Overall, I ran close to 4.2 miles at a 9:19 pace. So much for a "nice and easy" run around the neighborhood.

Upcoming Races

Now that the marathon is behind me - and that I'm running again (unlike after my first marathon) - I'd like to take advantage of my marathon conditioning and run some races...and perhaps earn some more new PRs.

My 10K PR was set in 2006, when I was training for my first Half Marathon. It was in the Pike's Peek race which is net downhill and a pretty fast course. My time was 56:14 - a 9:03/mile pace. Based on some of my training runs, I'm pretty sure I can go sub-9:00/mile.

I would normally run the Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving Day, but it looks like we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, so I'll be busy with the turkey and getting the house ready. So I found another 10K the Sunday before Thanksgiving that is held by the Annapolis Striders. I know nothing about the course - I hope it is not too hilly!

Following up after that, I may try running the Gar Williams Half Marathon on December 5. My Half Marathon PR was set earlier this year at the Run For The Shelter Half Marathon in 2:13:22 - a 10:11/mile pace. I'm pretty sure I can run a Half Marathon in a sub-10:00/mile pace - again, if it is not too hilly.

I hope I can stay healthy and injury-free to get to the starting line of these races - and kick some behind!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Morning Run DENIED!

With the procurement of my seasonal GU flavors, I was actually really psyched to wake up early and run with a shot of Vanilla Gingerbread GU.

I was winding down around 9:30pm last night - I was going to hit the sack early so I could get up early to run. Or so I thought...

It was about then that I remembered that I had to open up a conference bridge at 11pm for another maintenance window activity at work. If everything went right, I could open the bridge, see that everything had started up nicely and then hang up by 11:20pm. Of course, if this happened often, there would be little need for Project Managers.

You guessed it - things did not go as planned. "Luckily", I got to bed at 1:30am. However, that meant no morning run.

I did carve out some time in the late morning after a few conference calls to go for a 3 mile run. Even though I didn't exactly need the GU to run a 3 miler a few hours after breakfast, I decided to try the Vanilla Gingerbread flavor anyhow.

This tasted a lot like the Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. It tasted a little more ginger-y and not as sweet as the Starbucks drink, but overall I was pretty impressed. I'm not usually one for strong GU flavors - especially mid-run - but to start off your morning with a shot of this (or the mint chocolate) before an early morning run will be enough of a treat to make those "dark o'clock" runs worth it.

I hit my 3-mile neighborhood lake loop. I took it easy the first two miles - 10:37 and 10:40 - and then somehow I tore it up in mile 3 with a 9:52. Avg HR was 152, but this included some elevated readings in the first mile (second mile's avg HR was 149 and third mile was 151).

I'm not sure what the rest of the week will hold for me in terms of running. I may have some more late nights ahead, so I may need to rest up a bit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seasonal GUs Are Here!! (a new motivation for a morning run...)

I'm working in Reston, VA today so on my lunch break I walked around Reston Town Center and walked into Potomac River Running (to my friends at Fleet Feet...I'm sorry - I'll be back by you very soon!).

I was looking around and saw that the seasonal GUs are in. Hooray!!!

Last year I bought a box of the Mint Chocolate GU in the spring when it was on sale, and I loved this flavor. It was like downing a peppermint patty before my run...yum!

The store had both the Mint Chocolate and a new flavor (at least to me) - Vanilla Gingerbread.

I bought a box of both.

I now can't wait for my run tomorrow.

First Post-Marathon "Long" Run

It's kind of funny to be calling a 6 miler a "long" run now :-)

However, now that I'm not training for a marathon - or really anything right now - a 6-10 mile run is what I'll likely be doing on the weekend as a "long" run to compliment my 3-5 mile weekly morning runs.

The weather yesterday was beautiful - sunny and 70 degrees. Definitely not what you normally expect from early November in the DC area.

I had to drop my older son off at an afternoon birthday party which was conveniently located at the North end of the Rock Creek Trail. I said to hell with watching football (the Redskins are horrible this year anyhow...) and decided to go for my run on the trail. I parked the car near the trail, headed south on the trail for 3 miles and then headed back up to my car.

I brought my iPod shuffle along loaded with a playlist that I used during my speedwork runs - Lose Yourself, Pump It, Kashmir, Fire and some other tunes that get me going. This was good and bad - I found myself moving a bit too fast for a nice, easy run. My splits were 10:10, 10:11, 9:57, 10:11 and 10:08 before I slowed myself down for a final 10:40 mile.

The good news - I was able to run the six miles pain free! The bad news - later that evening and today, I have some soreness in my hip-flexor muscle. I'm already stretching it out as part of some of the stretches my chiro gave to me, so perhaps the focus on this area is also contributing to the pain.

I was a bit bummed out that I was sore today since the weather is beautiful again. I would have loved to jump out for a run before it gets cold again tomorrow, but I know my body would not appreciate it. I'd rather run healthy in the cold than with pain on a beautiful day. I guess I'll just have to find something else to do outside today!